African countries have more to gain by ratifying the CFTA

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (R), together with other leaders during the Business Forum on the Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali in March, 2018. File.

“We have to run where others walk” President Kagame, on many occasions, has made that statement that really put into perspective why Rwanda seems obsessed with speeding up development.

The country lost a lot of precious time in petty politicking that brought the country to its knees. Today Rwandans need no convincing to run fast, they do it willingly because they can see the benefits.

Africa, like Rwanda, also lost a lot of time in unproductive things that most countries are now worse off than during colonial times; infrastructure has collapsed, social amenities are non-existent because leaders and their cronies were busy stripping their countries bare.

Their only lifeline today is trade, fair trade. But they will not penetrate the world markets solo, their voices will be drowned out. They need to build clout in order to set terms when setting prices for their commodities and resources.

Today multinationals impose tariffs and control the markets because they know they are the only clients. African countries need to change that narrative and shift goal posts closer to home: intra-African trading.

The continent is by far a larger market than Europe but movement of people and goods needs to be eased. That is why 44 countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement in March last year in Kigali.

But unfortunately the enthusiasm they displayed while signing ebbed once they returned home. They seem to be in no hurry to ratify the instruments, and to date, only Ghana, Niger, Kenya and Rwanda have done so.

By now they should have learned the lesson; there is no way they will catch up with the developed world if they continue to dragging feet. They need to run, fast

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